American Metaphorologies: The Rhetoric Of Poesis
In Emerson, Thoreau, Peirce, And Rorty
Thomas Anthony Reynolds
Advisor: Adviser ANSELM HAVERKAMP
Source: DAI, 60, no. 05A (1999): p. 1545
This dissertation represents a metaphorological analysis of American pragmatism, focusing on the centrality of production or poesis in both the literary tradition of American transcendentalism and the philosophical tradition of American pragmatism. I begin with the thesis that the literary poetics which is developed by Emerson and Thoreau represents a rhetorical appropriation of a metaphysical model of creativity. In its emphasis on productivity, this Romantic theory of literature conditions the emergence of American pragmatism as a philosophical poetics. Accordingly, pragmatism represents a philosophical continuation of the project of literary Romanticism.
This dissertation retraces the path of a genealogy of pragmatism as a philosophical poetics emerging in the wake of American transcendentalism, from an examination of the metaphysical foundation of the theory of literary poetics or poesis in the transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau to the methodological appropriation of this poetic method within the method of pragmatism in the works of Peirce, James, and Rorty. Yet this dissertation represents a metaphorological analysis of this genealogy as well, an attempt to expose the implicit rhetorical substructure which enables such a genealogical reconstruction of pragmatism. It seeks to bring to light the rhetorical substructure of the metaphysics upon which the literary poetics of American transcendentalism and the philosophical poetics of American pragmatism are founded. Because, as "pragmatists" from Vico and Nietzsche to Blumenberg and Rorty suggest, the idealist metaphysics enabling the emergence of these traditions is itself a pragmatic, rhetorical construct, this series of literary and methodological appropriations that collectively form a genealogy of pragmatism constitutes a gradual recuperation of the original pragmatic processes underlying this metaphysical paradigm.
Following Hans Blumenberg's metaphorological project, I argue that pragmatism represents the methodological return of rhetorical processes which had been projected into the sphere of metaphysics in order to achieve articulation. I conclude by considering the influence of Blumenberg's metaphorology on Rorty's neopragmatism and the theoretical difficulties associated with the thesis that neopragmatism represents a conscious methodological recuperation of rhetoric from its detour through metaphysics.
Descriptor: LITERATURE, COMPARATIVE
Accession No: AAG9930245